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Restaurant owners share emotions after more COVID-19 restrictions hit region 1

On Sunday additional COVID-19 restrictions hit region one, which includes most of the Stateline.
Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 7:53 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As more COVID-19 restrictions take effect limiting the number of people that can sit at a table at any given time, restaurant and bar owners say they are confused over what they call mixed messages from state, county, and city leaders.

“Absolutely, our restaurant partners bars, as well as other facilities that are being or continue to be impacted by these mitigations," said John Groh, President of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On Sunday additional COVID-19 restrictions hit region one, which includes most of the Stateline. Groh said those who work in the restaurant industry will feel the biggest impact.

“Well just in the last couple of days we’ve already seen a couple of our local restaurateurs announce that they’re taking the steps to begin closing down their operations," Groh said.

The Illinois Department of Health restricts the number of people seated at a table at any given time moving from parties of 10 down to 6 and indoor dining is not allowed.

“It’s extremely frustrating as a restaurant owner that we’re being singled out and targeted,” said owner of Ciao Bella Restaurant Scott Frank. “Do people contract COVID at restaurants or bars? I don’t know, do they contract it at Walmart or Target, do they contract it at house parties or at school? It’s very frustrating.”

Some restaurant and bar owners say the COVID-19 guidance from the county health department and city leaders is contradicting. The Winnebago County Health Department states it will issue citations to bars that don’t shut-down indoor dining, while an email from Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says the city won’t initiate enforcement action based solely on indoor dining.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara's email to many local restaurants.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara's email to many local restaurants.(WIFR)

“I’ve never in my years on this planet, seen anything more like wild wild west than it is right now,” said Randy Baker, owner of Baker Street Burgers. “I don’t know who we’re supposed to follow or what we’re supposed to follow.”

The Winnebago County Health Department and Mayor Tom McNamara were not available for comment but will hold a COVID-19 update Monday afternoon.

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